October 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Bamm.tv for iPad Turns Music Discovery into a Videogame

bamm.tv ipad app

At SXSW in March, I wasn’t allowed to write about one of the neatest things I saw. It happens — due to the embargoes that (most of) us technology press people have to agree to in order to see stuff before its creators want people to know about it. For example, on Monday, I met with a company that told me about another neat thing I won’t be able to tell you about until next week. Like I said, it happens.

Bamm.tv’s embargo was probably the longest I’ve ever agreed to. As of this week, the coast is finally clear, so I can tell you about its new free iPad app, which sets forth a little virtual world where you can explore rooms, find bands, watch them play live with perfect audio and video quality, and unlock achievements, just like in those videogames the kids seem to like so much.

Why does Bamm.tv have so much exclusive video stored up? Because it has been shooting bands as they tour through San Francisco for over a year and a half, when I first encountered it at SXSW 2011, as well as filming some of them on the road.

The focus is on watching live music, and playing old-school tapes on a television and boombox, but you can also gather the stuff you like into customizeable playmixes, learn about each band (the best we found was The Ferocious Few, but your mileage may vary), share stuff on social networks, hear what the avatars have to say, or tap ads (represented by posters on walls).

For just about everything you do, you gain points with which to unlock new stuff, as you also work towards specific goals. The app rewards caring about music, in other words, and offers an incentive to keep coming back — even if for only a few minutes.

It might seem easy to make fun of an app like this, precisely because it’s trying something so new and ambitious. It really puts itself out there, just like a band has to do, but that’s precisely why I like it. Do we really need another music player or copycat radio service that doesn’t do anything new or particularly cool, when there are already so many solid entries there? It’s debateable.

What’s beyond discussion is that by owning its own content (with profit, not to be confused with revenue, split 50-50 with the bands) and building a rich, gameplay enabled experience — and, apparently, taking its own sweet time — Bamm.tv really is trying something new here.

In order for it to work, it might need some more marquee talent to stop by the studio. They should, because this app encourages something missing from much of the digital music scene, and our new world in general: focus.

Here’s a gallery:

And here’s the tutorial video: